23rd Jan 2012 9:50am | By Clare Vooght
Are you a virgin, and who would be in your team if zombies invaded the world are just some of the weird questions we face at job interviews these days. TNT finds out how to deal with them.
With so many candidates to sift through, employers like to throw a few curveball questions into interviews, especially for creative jobs. They use them to find out anything from what you’re really like as a person to how you deal with the unexpected. We’ve found the weirdest and asked London’s recruiters how to handle them.
Why did your parents split up?
An interview for a job at a newspaper got a bit strange for Steff Lewis-Sabey, 28, when an unorthodox editor asked her about her life experiences. Guessing her parents had divorced, the editor asked why and how it affected her. They spent 20 minutes talking about her parents’ relationship and 10 about her writing skills – she got the job.
Kristie Aked, senior recruitment consultant at Source, says: “Personal experiences happen to everybody. It’s not about judging someone for what’s happened to them, but how they’ve dealt with it.”
Eva Rode-Hilbert, director of ISE Partners recruitment firm, says make it about who you are, rather than talking about members of your family. If you’re not comfortable, try to deflect the question with another, like: “Should I talk about my influences growing up?”
Zombies have invaded Earth. Who’d be on your fighting team?
A survey of the weirdest job interview questions by Source Recruitment in east London ranked this weird one at the top. But employers have their reasons.
“This type of question is designed to break the ice a little,” says Carlie Santoro, recruiter at Quest Professional, Victoria. “It’ll give the interviewer a chance to evaluate how you react to the unexpected.”
They’ll be looking to see whether you choose celebrities, friends or family, and how you justify it. It gives you
a chance to have a laugh, show your sense of humour and get chatting.
Are you a virgin?
It might be over-stepping the mark, but Steve Jobs once infamously asked a squirming interviewee this question.
Sometimes it helps to turn this kind of situation around, Aked says, with a response like, “Why is this relevant to the role?” or even: “Are you?”
Just how much do you want this?
This question, when asked seductively, can make an interview really awkward (or brilliant, depending on your outlook). One cougar-esque interviewer in a technology company asked Mark Smith*, 27, this question. He answered in the most normal way possible, pretending he hadn’t realised what she meant. But when he asked for feedback after the second interview, his potential boss said he was great, but if he really wanted the job, he’d need to flirt back.
“She sounds hideous,” says Aked. “If someone thought that was important, it’d be a creepy environment to work in. If you really want the job, bring it back to a professional level. I would never suggest people flirt in an interview – a lot of people frown
on relationships in the workplace.”
What colour are your eyes?
When a hat designer asked Giorgina Ramazzotti, 26, this question, she answered ‘green’, he nodded and then just casually went on to the next question. But why did he ask?
“I’d suggest someone’s asking this to be a bit cheeky,” says Aked. “To see if someone’s got the balls to turn around and say, ‘you can see them’.”
If you were a miniature person trapped in a salad bowl, how would you escape?
This is another popular question from Source Recruitment’s survey. Like talking about your zombie slaying team, this is an opportunity for you to be creative, humorous and strike up a bond with the interviewer.
It gives you the chance to give a logical answer and to show some humour, says Rode-Hilbert. They also want to see if you’re outgoing, good with people and have a natural curiosity – so ask questions about the bowl.